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28/03/2019 - 09:00

Software for sorting surgeries received the UI Applied Science Prize


Software that helps hospital administrators in finding and maintaining the best categorisation of surgeries received first prize in the Applied Science Prize at the University of Iceland yesterday. Bouncing boat seats, Safe Seats, and nutrition treatment for people with irritable bowel syndrome also received awards at the ceremony.  

This was the 21th time that the prize was presented. The aim of the prize is to bring out utilizable ideas from students and staff at the University of Iceland and affiliated institutes. The awards are a collaboration of the University of Iceland, Árnason|Faktor, the Innovation Centre Iceland, and the New Business Venture Fund; a new collaborator and sponsor of the applied science prize.  

Thirty applications were submitted this year, a higher number than ever before. The ideas came from the University Schools and research centres; reflecting the diversity in subjects dealt with by students and University staff in the field of innovation and applied sciences; often in close collaboration with individuals outside the University. 

After great deliberation and discussion the evaluation committee reached the conclusions to award the first prize, four million ISK, to better categorization of surgeries. The aim is to design a system that helps administrators and admittance managers to find and maintain the best classification of surgeries using algorithms and models. The software, currently under development, makes suggestions for categorization and consequently shows the effects of the sorting on the flow of patients between surgeries, intensive care, recovery, and the inpatient unit. 

The evaluation committee considers this project of the utmost importance that will both benefit society and has great potential for utilisation. "The innovators have approached the assignment with great ingenuity and created a simple, yet flexible, solution to a complex subject. The evaluation committee considers the project to be an outstanding example of energy that can be released when people work together to achieve a common goal across fields of study and institutes. The project is a credit to the innovators, the University of Iceland, and Landspítali University Hospital," it says in the evaluation committee's testimonial. 

The innovators are Rögnvaldur Sæmundsson, associate professor at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science, Tómas Philip Rúnarsson, professor at the same faculty, Vigdís Hallgrímsdóttir managing director of sugical services at the Landspítali University Hospital, and Ásgeir Örn Sigurpálsson, Andri Páll Alfreðsson, Gunnar Kolbeinsson and Helgi Hilmarsson, students at the Faculty of Industrial Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science.

The second prize in the amount of two million ISK went to the project SAFE Seat. The project revolves around the development of a boat seat to protect passengers in rigid inflatable boats from impact and vibrations. The production of safe boat seats is supposed to be more cost effective than the seats currently on the market and thus accessible to a wider market.  This is achieved by a simple design, fewer parts, and the use of the bouncing quality in fibre plastic to create springy movement and compressed air for shock absorption. The simple construction of the seat ensures minimum maintenance, and the fiber material is as durable as the boat itself.  

It says in the evaluation committee's statement that the social benefit of the project is that if a cheaper solution than is known now is developed, it is likely to be used more widely.  This can reduce accidents. The market for this product is probably large. The project is a good example how knowledge can be fostered to the benefit of all involved by providing access to expertise, experience and facilities.  The evaluation committee is furthermore impressed by the inclusion of many strong partners from the industry in the project." 

The innovators are Svavar Konráðsson, master's student of mechanical engineering, Birgir Fannar Birgisson, industrial designer and Páll Einarsson, product designer.   
The third prize in the amount of one million ISK was awarded to the project "Electronic nutrition treatment for people with irritable bowel syndrome." Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition in the digestive tract characterised by varied types of pain, that negatively impact the quality of life of patients.  The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome is around 12-30%. Dietary and life-style changes are, alongside medication, a basic element of treatment.  The diet called low fodmap has proven to be successful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Guidelines on the diet are complicated and it can be difficult for individuals to find reliable information on it on their own, furthermore, there are not many specialists in low fodmap diet in Iceland.  The project is based on establishing an online forum where patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome can access three different types of dietary treatment, with reliable information and guidelines and supporting materials.   

The evaluation committee believes that the project is likely to have a highly positive social impact because it will be useful to a large number of people and increase their quality of life.  "The project is a good example of how it is possible to use new technology to disseminate information on the latest research and knowledge in a particular field to those who need it most.  It is thus possible to increase the service substantially for a group that otherwise might face difficulties in getting specialist service, and provide support in a difficult treatment protocol," the committee furthermore says. 

The innovator is Ingunn Erla Ingvarsdóttir, nutritionist at the University of Iceland and Landspítali University Hospital Unit for Nutrition Research, her partners in the project are Ingibjörg Gunnarsdóttir, professor at the Faculty of Food Science and Nutrition, Svava Engilbertsdóttir, assistant manager of the Unit for Nutrition at Landspítali University Hospital, and Einar Stefán Björnsson, professor at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Iceland.  

The University of Iceland's series of meetings on innovation concluded
Alongside the awarding of the Applied Science Prize of the University of Iceland the last talk in the meeting series "Innovation - applied intellect" was held. The meeting series was concluded with the lecture "Utilising artificial intelligence in anaesthetic medicine" where Jón Skírnir Ágústsson, research director of Nox Medical, Heiðar Már Þráinsson, student at the University of Iceland and Hanna Ragnarsdóttir, student at the University of Reykjavík, discussed a project where the company and the students cooperated - resulting in the students receiving, along with Róbert Ingi Huldarsson and Eysteinn Gunnlaugsson the President of Iceland's Innovation prize.   

The innovators who received awards for their projects